Monday, September 22, 2008

Guest Blog Post - Chris Van Gorder

Our JCOC flew in our C-17 Globemaster to Rota, Spain this morning. As usual, the team managing this week operated with expected military efficiency - nothing is left to chance. The JCOC participants have become very comfortable with each other and the schedule.

A lot of research material has been made available for us including several books with bios and descriptions of the countries, commands, ships and equipment we will see and visit. I will try to summarize some of the data during the next few days.

Spain - Spain and the United States have a long relationship. In addition to US and Spanish cooperation in NATO, defense and security relatiosnips are regulated by the 1989 Agreement on Defense Cooperation, revised in 2003. Under this agreement, Spain authorized the US to use certain facilities at Spanish military installations - the Naval Base at Rota, Spain is one of these bases.

After the terrorist attacks on the US on 9/11/2001, Spain became a key US ally in the fight against terrorism. Spain backed military action against the Taliban in Afghanistan and took a leadership role within the European Union in pushing for increased international cooperation on terrorism. The Spanish government, with a rotating UN Security Council seat, also supported intervention in Iraq.

Spain and the US also cooperate in other areas - NASA and the Spanish National Institute for Aerospace Technology (INTA) jointly operate the Madrid Deep Space Communications Complex in support of Earth orbital and solar system exploration missions. The Madrid Complex is one of the three largest tracking and data acquisition complexes comprising NASA's Deep Space Network.

The area of the Kingdom of Spain is 194,884 square miles, including the Baleric and Canary islands; roughly the size of the states of Arizona and Utah combined. The population of its capital, Madrid is approximately 5.5 million.

Today we visit the our second of the United States Armed Services - the US Coast Guard at Naval Base, Rota.

The Coast Guard is one of the five Armed Forces of the United States and the only military organization within the Department of Homeland Security. As the principle Federal agency responsible for maritime safety, security, and stewardship, the Coast Guard protects the economic and security interests of the United States including the maritime public, our natural and economic resources, global transportation system and the integrity of maritime borders.

Interesting facts:

* Coast Guard has 40,698 members - the smallest armed service.

* The Coast Guard traces its roots to the creation of the "System of Cutters" in 1790 and later the Revenue Cutter Service.

* Since its creation in 1790, the Coast Guard and its predecessors have been involved with every American war.

* The first naval shot of the Civil War was fired by the Revenue cutter Harriet Lane when it challenged the steamer Nashville with a shot across its bow.

* On an average day, the US Coast Guard saves 14 lives and assists 98 people in distress.

* On an average day it conducts 74 search and rescue missions (cases).

* On an average day it interdicts 17 illegal migrants at sea.

* On an average day it seizes or removes over 1,000 pounds of illegal drugs ($12.9M value).

* On an average day it escorts over 20 larger passenger vessels, military outload vessels, high interest vessels or vessels carrying especially hazardous cargo.

We have arrived in Rota, Spain - more later tonight.

Hope all is well back home.


No comments: